Well, yesterday was Semifinals. A loooong but great day. We got up on the morning for breakfast around 8. I went back to sleep for a little bit before we had to shower a get ready. But guess what? Noooo water still. We had found out that there were two working bathrooms down stairs by the pool so we all were going to use that one at a time. This was around 10 o’clock and we had to leave for rehearsal at 11. It was taking forever (especially the women, is anyone surprised?) so we got word that there was a faucet in the back of the building that was working so a bunch of the guys just went over there and quickly showered. Yea crazy I know, water was a bit cold but it got the job done. So we went over to rehearsal. There we had some food to eat before rehearsal. We also said a prayer. We usually pray after rehearsal but this was different because of Semifinals. A lady actually said the prayer and there was some bible readings. Then we sang. But not like oh lets sing a little song together. The whole percussion section played a calypso beat in the background and there was clapping (on 2 and 4) and it was nice. I did get a chuckle because the other white person in the band was clapping on 1 and 3 haha. Anyways so we played a little bit for a warm up and all the sudden they were like “time to move the pans.” I was a rack leader because my pans are on a rack by themselves. We got in a sort of caravan of pans and pulled them down the street. We weren’t too far from the Savanna (where the competition is held) but its not as easy when you are pushing pans and dodging traffic. I really didn’t know what was going on (as usual) but I just did what I was told. I actually passed by Exodus as they were practicing but no time or free hands for pictures. Then we had come to a stop because there was another band set up in the street (that was closed off) and we started to setup our pans. This is what they call “the track” or “the strip.” There were a lot of vendors along the side walk and sets and tons of people. We setup our pans and played through our song at moderate pace. I was actually right on the end so people could actually come right up to my pan and rest on the railing. Kind of awkward at first, not to mention people are probably curious to see if I can play well. Played through a few things and then it was time to move again. Then I realized it was just like marching band only instead of marching, you push stuff. We set up and played a couple more times and each time the energy got a little higher because we were getting closer to the stage and time to play. Also there were more and more people the closer you got to the stage. The road wasn’t very even all the time either so there were a couple of times I almost rolled into the gutter while I was playing. We were on the last stretch of road where they have a competition before they reach the stage that is actually judged by Pantrinbago Judges. It was then that I realized that I needed to change into long pants for the completion. So of course I did in front of a bunch of people but oh well. I’m glad I waited because I would have been dead if I wore long Jeans all day long. If you are curious as to how I carried stuff around, I hooked my back pack to my pan rack. At this competition before the stage, we were asked to play it slower that it would be which was a nice warm up. People are pack all around you and the energy is really high. Lots of dancing and jumping and a ton of fun. I think people in the band were impressed that I moved and I actually created some of the dance moves everyone was doing. After we played there we started pushing our pans to the stage. Coming up to the stage on the right is a huge crowd of people and to the left, stadium VIP seating and the Judges. On each side of the stage is a huge ramp. On the judges side and the crowd side are a bunch of lights and speakers and such. We started setting up the pans as fast as we can in a predetermined arrangement and as soon as my pans were set a few seconds later we were about to play. There are two huge red timers on either side so the band can see because the time limit is 8 minutes with a 30 second buffer. Seion counted us of and we started playing. The energy was crazy, there were camera men around the outside of the band and the adrenaline was pumping. I actually later found out that you can watch it streaming live on the internet. I will give out the website when it gets closer to finals and when I have the approximate time we are playing. It was so hot up their I was sweating so much and I couldn’t hear anything but it was an amazing experience. My rack was actually moving around quite a bit but it didn’t affect me too much. I will definitely tie it to the rack next time me next time. I looked up and the timer said 8:17. Great time. We pushed our racks down the ramp on the opposite side we came in on and packed them into the boxes. We then walked the empty racks back to the school where we practice and had some food.
Seion, Akua and Kyshon (another Trini player for the Buccooneers) were going to the Savannah to walk around and see a few big bands and invited me along. Even though I was exhausted, or course I still went. Now walking around with Seion is pretty funny because we can’t go 10 feet without someone stopping to say hello. He’s a celebrity. But we were able to see a bunch of bands playing on the track just as I did earlier. Keep in mind by this time it is almost midnight. Seion and I actually separated from the other to for a little bit to sit down. He took me in the VIP section right behind the judges as we watched a couple of big bands play. It was a pretty cool sight to see. Of course this one lap around the savannah did take us well over 3 hours because Seion saw so many people. I definitely didn’t mind though. I actually get stopped and talked to by a lot of people there too. Except they are either crazy or trying to sell me something. I can get a cab in the blink of an eye. We ended up starting to leave right after the Desperados played. Robert Greenidge arranges for him and I walked right past him on stages. Pretty cool. So as we were leaving I got to see a lot of the big bands pans. I saw a 6 pan and a 12 bass (in the picture to the right) and some really funky looking setups.
We ended up heading back to the hotel where we hung out, limed, drank a little, and watched the rest of the big bands. I don’t think bands finished until after 2 or 230 am. Then the results came in. There was about 25 of us in one room silent listening to them read it off. There was a bit of hooting and hollering when we found that we had beaten the band who is playing the same song as we are (the arranger of the band actually helped compose the song). And then we got the news that we are in 3rd with 167 points and First place was another Tobagonian band Steel Explosion with 170 points. Everyone was really happy we were in the finals but still thought we should be in a higher position. We ended up going to bed just to get up again at 6 for the ferry back to Tobago. We got in at around noon, I ate some bake and fish and went to bed. I got up around 7 to move pans at 8. Got done around 1AM and I am exhausted. I know this was a long blog but it was a very eventful day. I hope I didn’t forget anything important. It’s time to go back to bed. More tomorrow.
(By the way, the picture above is a screen shot from the video taken during the competition sent to me by Rich Holly, my Dean from NIU. Thanks again!)